Social direction and reflexive attention

by notwilliam

Langton and Bruce (1999) decided to investigate how cues affect where we pay attention and our reaction times when a stimulus appears, to do this, they presented participants with an image of a face pointing in one of four directions; up, down, left or right, followed by a stimulus in one of those four directions, however, the stimulus and the cue were not related and participants were aware of this fact. they found that participants reacted faster to the stimulus if it was in the same location pointed to by the cue, when the stimulus appeared after 100ms, but the difference vanished if the stimulus appeared after 1000ms, which suggests that facial cues trigger a reflexive shift of attention which makes it easier to respond to stimuli from the same direction.
One of the most interesting things about the findings in this research study is that not only was there a difference in the reactions dependent on cue location, but when the stimulus came after 100 ms the reactions were faster than the reactions when the stimulus appeared after 1000 ms, suggesting that the longer we have to prepare for an appearance, the slower we will respond.